Social media or social networking is a phrase; we throw around a lot these days, often to describe what we post on sites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and others. It has changed the way we communicate, do business, and get our daily news fix and so much more. But is it really all, it’s cracked up to be?
Insiders from the Silicon Valley shared information with the BBC, according to which, social media platforms use various tricks and vulnerabilities in human psychology to evoke dependence on their products.
According to the report, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and other companies intentionally develop the interface of their products in such a way, it causes people to get used to and make them spend more of their time on social networks.
During an episode of the BBC’s Panorama programme, Aza Raskin, a former Mozilla and Jawbone employee, regarded the use of social media as addictive as “cocaine”.
“It’s as if they’re taking behavioural cocaine and just sprinkling it all over your interface and that’s the thing that keeps you like coming back and back and back,” said Raskin, who invented the infinite scroll, a feature that enables users to swipe down through an endless stream of content and one of features that many believe contributes to social media addiction.
Sandy Parakilas, a former Facebook platform manager, said the company’s goal was to “addict” people at “an incredibly young age”.
Raskin further confirms that behind every element of the interface are thousands of engineers and companies that study the habits of people. They design every little detail in the interface according to the people’s reactions to certain elements.
We comprehend that business is business; these companies will go to every length to expand their profits and audiences by every possible way. It is the duty of media scholars and almost whole society to not fall prey to these tactics by raising voices.
Social media has long been discussed regarding mental health and addiction. But we can’t fully regulate or ban them because as harmful as it may be, social media also has huge benefits such as #MeToo, an international movement against sexual harassment that gained momentum in the past couple of months also originated on the same platform.
Organizations like “Time well spent” and “Digital Wellbeing” in the tech world are here to help you curb social media and mobile phone addiction, respectively. We have to understand that technology is made to assist, not to master us.